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University of Michigan

— Computers

Courtroom fibs used to develop lie-detecting software

There's a challenge when you're developing new lie-detection software – you can get people to lie for you in a lab setting, but their behaviour won't be the same as it would be in a real-world scenario. In order to see authentic lying behaviour, you need to go somewhere where the stakes for the liars are higher. That's why scientists from the University of Michigan turned to videos of courtroom testimonies.

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— Environment

Chasing the sun: How solar forecasting could be the difference in the World Solar Challenge

Like every other team currently taking part in the World Solar Challenge, an arduous 3,000 km solar-powered race across the Australian outback, the University of Michigan Solar Car Team will look to keep its car chugging along by exposing it to as much sunlight as possible. But the UM team has brought along a little piece of added technology it hopes will offer an edge. Developed by IBM, the solar forecasting system tracks the clouds moving overhead so the team knows where they need to be and when to draw maximum energy from the sun.

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— Environment

Kirigami-inspired solar cells twist to track the sun

One of the challenges facing designers of traditional flat solar panels is the fact that the sun doesn't conveniently stay in one place. This means that in order for a panel to receive as much sunlight as possible, it has to pan with the sun as it moves across the sky. While there are motorized assemblies designed to do just that, they add complexity, weight and expense to photovoltaic systems. Now, however, University of Michigan scientists have developed a simpler alternative – and it's based on the ancient Japanese cut-paper art of kirigami.

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— Space

Self-healing material could plug holes in space ships

As the movies have shown us, space travel is an intimidating prospect, what with the possibilities of running out of air, the rocket engines conking out, or the shipboard computer deciding to bump off the crew. Another danger is fast-flying orbital debris piercing the hull. Scientists may be on their way to a solution to that one, however, in the form of a new self-healing material.

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— Automotive

Mcity opens as a first-of-its-kind sandbox for autonomous and connected vehicles

Mcity at the University of Michigan is defined by over 28 acres (11 hectares) of fake buildings, purposefully defaced road signs, and pedestrians pointedly standing in roadways. While this could tax any human driver, the Mcity simulation is designed to test the university's fleet of connected and autonomous vehicles as they interact with an everchanging research facility that's the first of its kind.

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